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Family Law Blog

Student Loans and Divorce

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Most young students now graduate with thousands of dollars in debt, and there may be important questions about who's responsible for paying off those loans in the event of a divorce.

The question of who is responsible for student loans is critical in light of the fact that in 2012, college students, who graduated with bachelor's degrees, graduated with approximately $29,400 in school loans. The average debt is much higher in the case of students earning advanced degrees. In a marriage where both partners have student debt, the accumulated debt is bound to be hefty.

For the most part, your student loan is yours alone, and your spouse will not be liable for it in the event of divorce. If the student loan was taken out while you were single, the loan remains yours alone to repay, which means that you may be in for a nasty surprise when you get divorced, and have to go back to living the single life again. Those monthly payments that you make will become burdensome when you take into account your daily household living expenses, including rent, groceries, utilities and other expenses that may have been shared when you were part of a marital relationship. That's why it's vital that you make a complete analysis of all your potential monthly expenses during the proceedings, as soon as you make the decision to file.

If the student loan was taken out while you were in a marital relationship, things may be a little different. You will still be responsible for your own student loan, but there may be exceptions. California is a community property state, and debts that are incurred during a marriage may be considered joint debt. However, exceptions are typically made in the case of student loans, barring some cases, depending on when the loan was taken out and other factors.

Are You Twitting Your Way to Divorce?

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Persons who can't resist twitting their opinions regularly could be jeopardizing their marital relationship. A new study at the University of Missouri specifically focused on the risks to relationships from overuse of Twitter, and found that there was an association between relationship strain and Twitter use.

The association between Facebook and divorce has been investigated quite extensively. In fact, divorce lawyers have found an association between higher use of Facebook, and strain on a marriage, even ultimately leading to a divorce. In many cases, the result of such social media overuse is cheating on a spouse. In other cases, the relationship is strained because of the amount of time that one spouse may spend on the site.

Similar concerns also seem to exist in the case of Twitter. The results of the study published recently in the Journal Cyber Psychology, Behavioral and Social Networking found that excessive Twitter use leads to conflict between partners which can actually strain the relationship. There are a number of negative outcomes that were pointed out to in the study, including infidelity, breaking up, separation and divorce.

The researchers focused on 581 users of Twitter, who were questioned about their Twitter use, their relationship status, and the existence of any conflicts related to their use of the social networking site. All of the respondents were between the age of 18 and 67. The researchers found that subjects who admitted to being much more active on the site were much more likely to report relationship conflict, which ultimately often resulted in a bad outcome for the relationship. Persons admitted to cheating or fighting frequently with their partners over Twitter use.

As with any social networking site, Twitter use needs to be minimized especially since the platform works on bite- sized 140-character messages that can be exchanged between parties, increasing the risk of excessive use of the site.

Massachusetts Bill Could Ban Sex during Divorce

Saturday, March 22, 2014

An interesting bill that is pending passage in the state of Massachusetts could actually ban couples who are in the middle of divorce proceedings from having sex or even dating.

The legislation seeks to require that in divorce proceedings involving children, the party living in the home should not date or conduct a sexual relationship inside the home, until divorce proceedings are complete and all issues are settled. If the party does want to date, or have a sexual relationship inside the home, then he must seek the permission of the court.

The bill was originally filed in 2013, and must be considered by the state legislature by June 30. The bill was sponsored by State Senator Richard Ross who insists that he does not really support the bill, but has only sponsored it as a courtesy to one of his constituents. According to the constituent, he went through a bitter divorce, and believes that a bill like this would help protect children living in the marital home, during the divorce proceedings.

Obviously, this is just a bill, and for this to become law, it would have to be passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, and be signed by the governor. Whether the bill will pass the Legislature is anyone's guess.

However, this bill does raise one of the more important questions that people who are in the middle of a divorce often ask their attorneys - Does the divorce automatically put the brakes on dating, or are you free to see other people while the divorce proceedings have not yet been finalized?

The fact is that any personal or social relationships during a divorce can have a legal impact on your divorce case. For instance, it isn't uncommon for attorneys for the other party to spy on your activities to dig up dirt that can be used during the divorce proceedings, especially in child custody matters.

Hamm Divorce Finalized, Court Rules Tycoon Will Retain Controlling Interest

Monday, March 03, 2014

Billions of dollars’ worth of controlling interest in his oil empire was at stake as oil tycoon Harold Hamm, battled it out with his wife Sue Ann in their divorce case. Now, the judge has ruled in favor of Hamm, saying that he will not have to give up his controlling interest in the oil company as part of the settlement.

Hamm is the founder of Continental resources and a billionaire, and his controlling interest in Continental Resources was at the crux of the case. Hamm currently owns a 30% equity stake in Continental Resources, and news that he would have to give up his controlling stake as part of his divorce settlement, had rankled shareholders. Uncertainty loomed over the future of the company.

Now however, the judge has ruled as part of the order granting partial summary judgment, that the billionaire will retain as his own separate property more than 122 million shares of Continental. These are shares that he owned before he married Sue Ann. The judge has now ruled that those 122 million shares are considered premarital property belonging to Hamm.

Hamm’s marriage has been a volatile one. In fact, this is the third time that the couple has filed for divorce over the past decade. The couple has been estranged and living apart for the past 10 years, but so far, there has been no final statement on the kind of settlement that Sue Ann will receive. It is no doubt likely to be a very hefty settlement.

Next, the court will have to decide how to divide the value of the stock because it has grown exponentially over the course of their marriage. Until that decision is made, the tycoon must hold on to the shares, and will not be able to sell or transfer them.

More Senior American Couples Head to Divorce Court

Friday, February 28, 2014

Baby boomers are breaking records for divorce rates. According to data, American seniors above the age of 50 are now twice as likely to get divorced, compared to people of the same age barely 2 decades ago. Los Angeles divorce lawyers are increasingly coming across divorce cases involving seniors, who have been married for two or three decades or even more, who decide to end their marriage.

The reasons for divorce in the golden years can be quite different from those involved when the divorcing couple is in the 30s or 40s. In the case of a senior couple, it's not always financial reasons, or adultery that is the main cause of the end of the marriage. In fact, in the case of seniors, it's very often a parting of ways that usually begins to manifest itself when the children have grown up and left the home. Many seniors suffer from the “empty nest syndrome”, and may not be able to handle that their biggest accomplishment as a couple over the years - raising their children - is no longer the glue that holds them together. In the absence of joint interests or passions - which may not have mattered much when they were younger - an older couple may find that they have nothing in common anymore.

Additionally, compared to a young woman in her 30s or 40s, a senior woman above the age of 50 maybe well-established in her career. Financial independence does play a factor in an older woman's decision to file for divorce.

Back in 1990, according to experts, the rate of persons above the age of 50 getting divorced was less than one in 10. Currently, as many as one in four people consulting a divorce lawyer are above the age of 50.

Cohabitation Likely to Lead to Long-Term Relationships

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

According to a surprising study, cohabitation increases the chances that the relationship will continue into the long term. Those are surprising findings because there is a vast body of research which confirms that people who choose to live together without getting married, are much more likely to terminate their relationships, compared to married couples.

The new study was based on a nationwide sample of relationships that lasted 8, 12, and 24 years. The researchers found that cohabitation had a strong influence on the number of relationships that lasted for at least eight years.

However, persons who are in a cohabitation relationship need to look beyond the statistics to understand the reasons for these findings. According to the researchers, it could simply be that there are a large number of cohabiting couples in society, and therefore, there are enough of them whose relationships have crossed the eight-year stage for them to contribute significantly to the data. In other words, cohabiting is fairly common in US society, and the large number of cohabiting couples is probably the reason for these findings.

Many couples, who choose to live together before getting married, use this period of time as a trial period of sorts, to test the waters before they take the final plunge. For many of them, cohabitation does lead to a successful marital union, although studies also seem to suggest that cohabitation doesn't necessarily predict a successful and happy marriage.

Nevertheless, if you are in a cohabiting relationship, it's very important that you and your partner sign a cohabitation agreement that clearly defines your rights as well as obligations in the event of the termination of your relationship. A Los Angeles divorce lawyer can help you define the kind of details that must feature in your cohabitation agreement to protect your rights.